Poland prove they are much more than a one-man show

Anyone who thought Poland were a one-man team may have to change their tune after watching them against Northern Ireland yesterday.

All eyes were on Robert Lewandowski before kick-off and as the striker lead his team out at the Stade de Nice it was not difficult to see where photographers were pointing their lenses.

However during the match there was no denying that there is more than one star ready to sparkle within this Poland team.

Labelling countries as being dependent on one player is very much the vogue trend of these European Championships, with Portugal and Wales the prime examples. The pair are, in many people’s eyes, dependent on the talents of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale respectively.

But it would be wrong to place Poland in the same bracket after watching the manner they worked as a team in the idyllic Nice sunshine.

Of course, Lewandowski acted as the focal point for his team and as Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill rightly pointed out after this match, the striker's presence creates space for those around him.

But the supporting cast behind the Bayern Munich forward deserves recognition too and it would be foolish to overlook the role they play.

Grzegorz Krychowiak, who was part of the Sevilla side which defeated Liverpool to win the Europa League last month, conducts things superbly in the middle of the park, while Jakub Blaszczykowski is more than capable of causing problems out wide with his electric pace.

Arkadiusz Milik is another who undeniably deserves to come out of Lewandowski’s looming shadow. The 22-year-old was another bright spark who twinkled in Nice and it was his goal that in the end proved to be the difference.

The attacking midfielder took it with aplomb, firing the ball past Michael McGovern after another of Poland’s supporting cast, Blaszczykowski, had picked him out from the right-hand side.

However, it was Krychowiak who was named man-of-the-match in the end, a further indication of the many strings to Poland’s bow.

The player was gracious as he received the award, declaring it should be shared with the rest of his team-mates as journalists queried whether this team were dark horses to do something special.

“I think the whole team should collect the award. We are here at the Euros only thanks to the whole team,” said Krychowiak.

“We have proven that in the qualifiers that everyone thinks about the collective. That is how we are showing ourselves as individuals, by playing as a collective.

“The team realised we want to win as individuals, but we can only do that if we work as a collective and a team.

“This is just the beginning, the next match will show what we are capable of. I think we can do a lot but we shouldn’t be over-optimistic. We must take it calmly with a cold-headed approach. We know our potential.”

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